I always have a soft spot for phirnis, not because I love them with all my heart and soul, but because those were the first ever Indian desserts I made. The first time I made a classic Kaju Phirni to go with Mutton Biriyani last year on Holi. A few months later I gave it a chocolatey spin and came up with my Chocolate Phirni with Nuts.
Since then i promised myself I’ll first buy earthenware phirni moulds before I make my next batch of phirnis. To this end, I’ve waited one long year. But evidently in that one year I have conveniently forgotten to buy what was a prerequisite for my next phirni agenda. But I was certainly not going to let that shortcoming play a spoilsport in preventing me from making this Mango Cashew Phirni, nor was I mindless enough to run to Gariahat at midday with the blazing sun threatening me with a heatstroke every single minute. So this is what you get: Mango Cashew Phirni in glass bowls. Something is better that nothing, ain’t it?
Rice, soaked in water: 5 tbsp
Cashew nuts, soaked in water: 3/4th of a cup + for garnish
Milk, full fat: 1 litre
Mangoes, peeled and roughly cubed: 4 + 1 for garnish
Saffron: a pinch (soaked in 2 tbsp warm milk)
Sugar: 150 gm (more or less, depending on the sweetness of the mangoes)
Powdered green cardamom seeds: 1/2 tsp
Pistachios, chopped finely: for garnish
1. Drain and grind the rice, cashews to a coarse paste and thin the paste with some cold milk so that no lump remains.
2. Puree the mango chunks in a blender till it is smooth and luscious.
3. In another heavy-bottomed pan bring milk to a boil. Now take the pan off the heat, let it cool for 5-10 minutes and add the rice and cashew paste dissolved in the cold milk, whisking continuously so as to prevent any lumps from forming. (Tip: Just in case lumps form despite that, turn off the heat, let the milk cool and in a blender pulse the entire milk+rice+cashew content. All lumps that were formed will go. Pour the mixture back to the pan and turn on the heat.)
4. Cook till rice is completely cooked, stirring constantly to prevent scalding.
5. Add the pureed mangoes and keep whisking till the whole mixture turns into a pale orange colour. Add saffron with the milk and stir.
6. In the meanwhile, blitz sugar and cardamom powder together and add to the mixture till sugar is dissolved completely. Add sugar a bit a time and keep tasting, ’cause your mangoes should also be pretty darn sweet. Let it simmer till the mixture is thick and reaches your desired consistency.
7. Pour into earthenware or glass bowls and chill in the freezer overnight. 2 hours before serving put it in the refrigerator. Garnish with chopped nuts and mango chunks and serve chilled.